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Hobbits for Electoral Reform

May 4, 2011

Dear Wise Races of the United Kingdom of Middle Earth,

Please forgive a humble Hobbit for bothering you  but I just wanted to write about an urgent matter of democracy. Here in Hobbiton we have just had a Shire-wide election. Let’s just say that I’m fairly miffed about the results. In fact everyone I know if quite perplexed by the outcome. You see, we use an ancient method of voting, some say it came from Mordor itself, called First-Past-The-Post (FPTP). I know you are familiar with it as I am told it is the same system you use yourselves. It is as simple as can be, the candidate with the most votes wins, no matter how much or how little of the vote they received. This simplicity seems to hide many problems.

In yesterday’s election, for example, one Stepper Harphentwizzle was elected Mayor of All-The-Shire. The problem is Harphentwizzle has some quite extreme ideas about how Hobbits should live and only 39% of Hobbits actually agree with his clan’s view.  The problem is, you see, that because of FPTP the other main clans, the Proudfeet, led by Ignatius, and the Headstrongs, led by Jackleberry, split their vote in many of the Shire’s 308 ridings. (yes, that seems like a lot but the Shire is bigger than it seems)

To be sure, Ignatius didn’t inspire people with his talk of long ages past and the great war of the Ring as the Proudfeet expected. And truly Jackleberry surprised everyone with his energy and charisma, for a time many thought he might become Mayor himself. But in the end much of their vote was split even though many would have chosen the other had they known. But Hobbits are not so good at working all that out ahead of time. Perhaps you other grand races are better at it. Although I could not fathom how.

But it is what it is. The reason I’m writing you is because I have heard that across the pond in your part of Middle Earth you are using the same horrible Mordor based system and are considering a switch. I have heard that the two strong and wise races of Dwarves and Elves both support fixing the system but that they vehemently disagree about what system to switch to.

I must say, given our recent outcome here in the Shire I simply can’t fathom why you would keep FPTP. It is true I am no Dwarf or Elf, but both of your systems seem plain to be an improvement over FPTP. The Elven system is more elegant surely, and probably best if I had to choose.  Yet I hear that it is the system of the Dwarves that is on offer. And it is not really so bad a system as it gives people a choice by ranking. I know many who would have swapped their Proudfoot and Headstrong votes if they had known how to.  The Dwarf system makes this easy even for a Hobbit. The Elven system is truly magical and will let all voices be heard…but it is not on offer. And once the Men of Gondor see that the Dwarf system has lost they will never again offer another choice since they need neither when all else are divided.

With all due respect, only an Elf would make the perfect the enemy of the good. It is the only flaw of that great race. From a Hobbit’s point of view the answer seems simple. Modest gains are the joys of a life lived well. One should be ready to strike out and grab for perfection if it presents itself, but if somebody offer you to simply improve your lot, you should take perhaps be happy.

So I urge all the wise people of the United Kingdom of Middle Earth, our mother country in a way, to take some advice from a humble Hobbit. Be you a Dwarf or an Elf or whatever else, vote like a Hobbit on May 5. Vote yes to AV.


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